Two months after the Jammu and Kashmir government sought Rs 28,000 crore for a reconstruction package for the 2014 floods, the Centre plans to send a team led by the Finance Minister’s expenditure secretary along with the NITI Aayog chief executive officer to discuss the proposal.
The amount requested by the Mufti Mohd Sayeed government, based on a World Bank assessment, may appear way below the Rs 44,000 crore demanded by the previous Omar Abdullah government, but a government official stressed, “It is not so because the previous government’s demand included significant amounts as subsidy and subvention. Moreover, we have said that this Rs 28,000 crore is only an interim requirement.”
The World Bank’s assessment is restricted to loss of public infrastructure. “It does not include damage to housing, loss of businesses and industries and damage to agriculture and horticulture. We need some special dispensation for this,” said the official, who did not wish to be named.
According to a senior state government functionary, Mufti is at a loss to explain to the people the slow pace of relief, rehab and reconstruction despite the PDP’s alliance with the BJP. The state has shared the World Bank study with the PMO and the Finance Ministry while state Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and made a presentation to the ministry. A government official told The Indian Express, “We don’t need the entire money at one go given our capacity to absorb. But the Centre has to start disbursing additional funds so that we can start reconstruction.”
In Srinagar, previous finance minister Abdul Raheem Rather (NC) said, “The central team’s visit is too late. How can they assess the damage now?… How the World Bank has come up with a figure of Rs 28,000 crore, we don’t know.” The state hopes to receive funds from three sources: funds set aside by central ministries such as power, roads, railways and water from their own outlay for J&K; the state plan; and a special dispensation based on the recommendation of the NITI Aayog. The World Bank has separately approved $250 million for the Jhelum and Tawi flood recovery project. The PM last September announced a special plan assistance of Rs 1,000 crore for rehabilitation.
2015 Kashmir Despatch